Cello + Piano in Paris 9/4: Auguste Franchomme + Chopin. American Cathedral


Dear Franchomme Fans:

I’ll be performing music from The Franchomme Project CD in Paris with Hélène Jeanney on September 4th. The most renowned French cellist of the 19th century, Auguste Franchomme was the dear friend and preferred musical partner of Chopin, and a fine composer himself. We’ll perform works found in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France that have been out of print and rarely (if ever) played in Paris since Franchomme’s death, including two works not on our album. Three direct descendants of Franchomme will be present at the concert. Admission by donation, pay what you wish.

Venue, Contact, Time:
The American Cathedral in Paris, 23 avenue George V, 75008 Paris (depicted in the painting above from 1890)
Phone: 06 72 01 31 61
September 4th, 2016, 4 pm- 450 pm, no intermission.
located in the 8th arrondissement in central Paris: closest metro stations are Alma-Marceau and George V.
Info en français below*
If you are in Paris on Sept. 4th, we hope to see you!
Louise Dubin

More info about Franchomme, as well as our recent reviews including those in Strings Magazine, American Record Guide (US), The Strad and Music Web International (England), and ClassiqueNews, Musicologie.org, and an interview conducted by Philippe Muller for Le Violoncelle (France) here:

*Annoncant mon concert a Paris le 4 septembre, 1600, à la Cathédrale Américaine de Paris, avec la musique composée par Auguste Franchomme et son cher ami Chopin. La pianiste Hélène Jeanney qui joue avec moi à Paris joue aussi sur notre album, The Franchomme Project (Delos). http://t.co/dka4fExHQj Plus info:

Franchomme’s Etude #2

The Conservatoire Concert Society Orchestra in Paris was known for reviving Beethoven, and one of his pieces they particularly loved to program was the Coriolan Overture. The other day I counted how many times they played the piece since the group’s first year, 1828. I stopped counting in 1847, the year Franchomme became the group’s principal cellist (when his teacher Norblin retired), but here’s the list:

1828 May 11

1830 Apr 11

1832 March 18

1833 May 5

1836 April 1

1837 March 24

1840 April 26

1845 January 26

Franchomme played all of these performances as a member of the illustrious group’s cello section, usually sitting next to his teacher Norblin. In 1855 Franchomme published his 12 Etudes Pour le Violoncelle avec Accompagnement d’un Seconde. (They are often played without the accompanying cello, but sound better with it!). The Etude #2, in my strong opinion, was inspired by the chief motive of the Coriolan Overture (first appearing in m. 15 and played by the cello section in m. 22). Same bowing, same tempo, and later in the Etude, similar spooky Beethoven-ish harmony. Compare them yourself and see if you agree! One recording of Franchomme’s Etude #2 is my own, with the accompaniment played by cellist Katherine Cherbas. This track is not on my recent album, The Franchomme Project (Delos), but if you buy the album directly from my website, you’ll receive it as a bonus download, and its sound quality is identical to the CD’s.  http://www.louise-dubin.com/shop/  Or come hear me play it tonight (see my other post from today)!

Thalia Bar NYC tonight

Come here Franchomme’s Etude #2, and his Caprices #1 and #9 tonight, as well as some solo Bach. I’m playing at Thalia Bar, 95th and Broadway, NYC tonight~7:20 pm no cover! They sell nice beers, wines, cocktails and snacks which go well with Franchomme. The music goes from 7-10ish. Other sets feature Trio 826, Hannah Holman’s string trio, and songwriter chanteur Nic Arp. http://bit.ly/1onkt22

Look Ma, no endpin! Franchomme versus Servais

In the engraving of the Alard-Franchomme Quartet at the head of this blog, we can see that Franchomme is playing his Duport Strad (more info about it in my earlier post) using a basically modern bow grip (just a bit higher on the stick) and NO endpin. He held the cello off the floor with his calves, which given the difficulty of his compositions is a remarkable thing.  According his late descendant, M. Laurent Pénicaud, Franchomme refused to use an endpin because he thought it made the cello sound unnatural.  He also refused to let his students at the Conservatoire use them, even as they were becoming widely adapted elsewhere due to the influence of the Belgian cellist Servais.  I’ve included a never-published photo (from the collection of his descendants) of an elder Franchomme sitting with his endpin-less cello in the forthcoming Dover Selected Works for Cello and Piano by Auguste Franchomme.

Servais was a large man with a large tone who played a large 1701 Strad with its own fascinating history. And apparently, Servais was a man who liked to eat.  Some have theorized that for Servais, the endpin may have become a real necessity for him to navigate the cello around his rotund belly! And, it may have enabled Servais to come across as more outgoing performer. Contemporary music critic Henri Blanchard, in his desire to differentiate Franchomme from Servais, called Franchomme elegantly precise but cold, and Servais passionate but out of tune:

Franchomme can be called the king of the French school of cello playing….he plays the cello in a manner that is elegant, easy, clean, but without inspiration or passion. His style is pure, but cold…[in contrast] Servais, head of the Belgian school… has a generous manner; he sings with expression on his instrument, but his intonation is not very accurate, a pretty common fault of cellists. Franchomme peut passer a juste titre pour le chef, pour le roi de l’ecole francais…[il] joue de violoncelle d’une maniere elegante, facile, nette, mais sans inspiration, sans passion. Son style est pur, mais froid…. Servais, chef de l’ecole belge avec Batta… il ya a de l’ampleur dans sa maniere; il chante avec expression sur son instrument, mais son intonation n’est pas tres sure, defaut assez ordinaire aux violoncellistes.”

Revue et Gazette Musicale, 1842

Probably out of respect for Franchomme’s opinion, endpins were not used at the Paris Conservatoire until 1884. It is probably no coincidence that 1884 happens to be the year when Franchomme died, and his student Jules Delsart took over the cello class there. (Delsart is most remembered today for his cello transcription of Franck’s violin sonata in A major). Even after the endpin became officially accepted at the Conservatoire, other illustrious cellists in the late 1800s refused to play with one, including Piatti and Grutzmacher.

Oct. 9: Franchomme Project CD Worldwide Release, + NY Concert Added!

Today, The Franchomme Project album (Delos Label) became available worldwide, through Naxos distributors.  You can also buy @ http://www.louise-dubin.com, where your purchase goes directly to the artists, and includes a bonus cello duo not on the CD.  (We ship everywhere, and also have a limited-edition T-shirt available!).  Franchomme Hi Rez artwork

In early 2016, Dover Publications will release a volume of Franchomme’s cello-piano compositions  with my introduction.  Included in the score are several pieces also on the album–including his Nocturnes Op. 15, Caprice sur Preciosa, and Chopin arrangements– and other facsimiles of his first publications (which include Franchomme’s fascinating fingerings!)

Our two September concerts were both Time Out NY Critic’s Picks, and now we’ve added a date! Please see http://www.louise-dubin.com/schedule for info about our 10/18 gig at Mezzrow in the West Village (we’re an opener for Bucky Pizzarelli!)

Franchomme’s famous Stradivarius cello, how he acquired it, and what compositions were (and weren’t) played on it

Last month, I completed my introduction to the forthcoming Dover publication of selected works for cello and piano by Auguste Franchomme. There were some great stories that I just couldn’t fit within their word limit. Here are some, to give you an idea of what else you can read when the score comes out.  I’ll post another one very soon.

One of the 2 images heading this blog is the only known depiction of Franchomme performing-  a plate from an 1877 book written by one of his former cello students, Antoine Vidal,*  showing an older Franchomme performing with the Alard Quartet. Violinist Jean-Delphin Alard (1815-1888) was, like Franchomme, the son of an amateur musician father, and like Franchomme, taught at the Conservatoire. In 1847, Alard had begun a new chamber music society, the Société Alard and Franchomme—partly to phase out his previous group’s cellist, Pierre-Alexandre Chevillard, who unlike Alard wanted to perform Beethoven’s late quartets, and proceeded to do so in his next group. Alard’s new group with Franchomme performed sonatas, trios, quartets, and quintets of Mozart, Haydn, and (early-middle period) Beethoven; the last two Beethoven cello sonatas were never performed by Franchomme, as far as I’ve seen, although my search has not been exhaustive. The society lasted, with many guest artists around the core of Alard and Franchomme, until 1870, by which time it had developed into the most prestigious chamber music series in Paris (there were at least four others in 1864).  The other musicians in the engraving sitting to Franchomme’s left are violist Desire Trombetta and violinist Jules Garcin.

Alard happened to be the son-in-law of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the renowned Parisian luthier and instrument dealer who helped Franchomme acquire the 1711 Duport Stradivarius cello, which he is playing in the engraving. (Vuillaume also made a small cello for René Franchomme, Auguste’s son, who was already a fine cellist and budding composer when he died at age 18). The Duport Strad had been owned and played by both of the Duport brothers, and Anner Bylsma calls it the “greatest cello ever made.” Early on, it came close to serious damage in the Tuileries Palace, where Jean-Louis Duport was performing as solo cellist of the court of the Emperor. Napoleon seized the cello from Duport, put it between his legs (dangerously close to his sharp riding spurs!) and said, “How the devil do you play this thing, Duport?” Fortunately, Duport said “Sir” in such a dire tone that Napoleon stopped his jesting immediately and returned the cello to Duport.

The Duport Strad was handed down to Jean-Louis Duport’s son, who played the instrument as the principal cellist of Lyon for a few years before establishing himself in Paris as a piano builder. He at first had no interest in selling the cello. Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume had told Franchomme, “vous êtes le successeur de Duport; vous seul devriez posséder son instrument.” In 1842, the cello was finally put on the market for an unprecedented price: either 22,000 francs (according to Franchomme’s descendants) or 25,000 francs (according to other sources). Franchomme struggled to come up with this amount, but somehow bought it the following year, possibly with the help of his wife’s dowry.

Franchomme’s daughter Cécile sold it to Hill and Sons in London in 1892 for 40,000 francs. Rostropovich played on this incredible cello for many years, and in fact he used it to record both Chopin’s Op. 65 Sonata and his Introduction and Polonaise Brillante. Franchomme performed both pieces with Chopin, using the same cello. Despite rumors that it was sold in 2008 for 20 million dollars to Japan’s Nippon Foundation, it is apparently still in the hands of Rostropovich’s survivors. http://www.allthingsstrings.com/layout/set/print/News/News/Where-is-the-Duport-Strad

*Plate LXXXVIII, “Musique de chambre en 1878,” Volume 3 of Antoine Vidal’s Les Instruments A Archet: Les feseurs, Les Joueurs D’Instrument, avec planche gravées a l’eau-forte par Frederic Hillemacher. Paris: Imprimerie de J. Claye, 1877-78. Reproduced with permission of Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University.

The Franchomme Project CD release TODAY + KDFC-FM San Francisco CD of the Week!

I’m thrilled to announce today’s release of The Franchomme Project CDAuguste Franchomme was the finest French cellist of the 19th century, a great friend of Chopin, and a masterful composer himself.  Many of his pieces receive their premiere recordings on our album, where I join forces with the fabulous musicians Julie Bruskin, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, Katherine Cherbas, Andrea Lam, and Hélène Jeanney.

Listen to samples of 5 tracks off of The Franchomme Project CD,  released today, September 11th, on the Delos/Naxos label!

We’re proud to have been chosen CD of the week by San Francisco’s KDFC-FM, the Bay Area’s classical music station. You can tune in anywhere in the Bay Area to hear selected tracks broadcast all day, all this week, or stream anywhere @ KDFC.com.

You can purchase the CD (as well as a T-shirt) at http://www.louise-dubin.com/shop/ Purchasing here means the proceeds go directly to the artists.

Le Projet est “CD de La Semaine” sur radio classique San Francisco

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